Hillary S. Webb, PhD, is a cultural anthropologist, author, and mixed-media storyteller specializing in existential-humanistic psychology and the anthropology of consciousness. For the last 20+ years, she has immersed herself in the study of how individuals from cultures around the world make meaning of their existence and, in particular, how they understand, access, and engage with non-ordinary states of consciousness. Hillary is the former Managing Editor of Anthropology of Consciousness, the peer-reviewed journal for the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness (a division of the American Anthropological Association) and former Research Director at The Monroe Institute, a research facility dedicated to exploring the effects of sound stimuli on human consciousness. She is the author of Yanantin and Masintin in the Andean World, Traveling Between the Worlds, and Exploring Shamanism as well as numerous articles, essays, and encyclopedia entries pertaining to her areas of expertise. Website: www.hillaryswebb.com
- PhD in Psychology, Saybrook University
- MA in Consciousness Studies, Goddard College
- BA in Journalism, New York University
Areas of Expertise
- Psychology: Existential-Humanistic, Jungian, Transpersonal
- Anthropology: Anthropology of Consciousness, Humanistic Anthropology
- Philosophy: Existentialism, Idealism, Transhumanism
- Neuroscience: Sound and the Brain
- Methodologies: Ethnography, Autoethnography, Phenomenology
- Research Ethics
I was a shy kid. I daydreamed compulsively. I loved to explore the world inside my head. I wanted to go deep, to find treasures in this place where the limitations of the “real world” did not exist. But we are beings in and of the world. Without others, we are on some level just goo in meat bodies. Part of me recognized that inhabiting this internal space exclusively would never allow me to achieve full personhood. So I made a choice: I would become a social animal.
An article in one of the teen magazines of the day said you should always look people in the eyes. Until then, I had always avoided the gaze of others. Why? I don’t know. But
I took the magazine’s advice to heart and forced myself to do so. And, when I did, I was astounded by what I saw. How much humanity pours out of each one of us in every moment: joy, rage, love, pain, confusion … all that, and so much more. The more I saw, the deeper I wanted to go into understanding it.
This impulse led me to earn an undergraduate degree in Journalism from New York University, an MA in Consciousness Studies from Goddard College, and a PhD in Existential-Humanistic Psychology from Saybrook University. My research has taken me around the world, from New York City’s underground occult scene to the conflict-resolution strategies of Central Peru; from circus performers in Portland, Maine, grappling with the limits of their own physical potential, to a stand-up comedy club in Berlin, Germany, where I undertook a quest to uncover the secret sauce for creating a state of communitas (“collective joy”) amongst cross-cultural strangers. I have worked as a journalist, editor, college administrator, and research director for an institute dedicated to studying the link between sound and altered states of consciousness. Out of these personal and professional experiences have come several books and various articles, essays, and encyclopedia entries.
I bring this passion for exploring the human condition to my role at Goddard. One of my greatest joys as an educator is helping students find, forge, and follow their own unique research paths. As a Goddard alumna (IMA 2006), I have a first-person awareness of what makes Goddard such a personally and professionally valuable experience, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to watch (and walk with) students as they explore the rich realms of mind, heart, and praxis. What results are remarkable works that few educational models can equal.
My most recent work involves the exploration of sound and sound technology as a storytelling tool. To this end, I have created a series of “audio narratives”—spoken-word stories paired with music, sound cues, and interview clips that explore the ways in which we human beings make sense of this wonderful, terrible, ecstatic, startling, and often absurd world in which we live.